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March 15, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #11
  • Lefebvre & Benoît president to head BMR, finalizing group’s leadership track
  • Shouldn’t your store enter the 2021 Outstanding Retailer Awards?
  • Canadian Tire’s pandemic shift to digital was sudden—and dramatic
  • Christina Manocchio is named Editor at Hardlines Inc.

PLUS: Fraser Valley Building Supplies adds sixth store, Castle adds new members, Home Hardware rolls up the rim, TORBSA to host Virtual Vendor Expo, Quebec dealers add another Home Hardware store, GMS reports Q3 sales, Costco’s Q2 sales, TIMBER MART’s Dave Dingwell remembered, ATIS faces closures, and more!

HardlinesShown here, l-r: Marc-André Lefebvre, Alexandre Lefebvre, and Caroline Lefebvre of Lefebvre & Benoit and Pascal Houle of Sollio.
Lefebvre & Benoît president to head BMR, finalizing group’s leadership track 

Starting today, Alexandre Lefebvre, president of Lefebvre & Benoît, steps into the CEO role at BMR Group. He replaces Pascal Houle, who has led BMR since 2015 and moved back to BMR’s parent company, Sollio Cooperative Group, as COO.

Along with the CEO role, Lefebvre will serve as EVP at Sollio.

BMR reached a deal back in the summer of 2019 to acquire a stake in Lefebvre & Benoit and has remained its main shareholder ever since. Established almost 60 years ago, Lefebvre & Benoît is a major supplier of building materials to builders and contractors in Quebec, with more than 600 employees. Both companies are members of the Independent Lumber Dealers Co-Operative buying group (ILDC).

Houle and Lefebvre have been working closely together since the buyout and Lefebvre will report directly to Houle in this new role. Lefebvre will also hold a seat on the Sollio board and retain his position as chair of the board of Lefebvre & Benoît.

“I am happy to welcome Alexandre Lefebvre to our team and have complete confidence in his ability to succeed me as CEO of BMR Group,” said Houle in a release. “Alexandre has extensive experience in management and has been head of the family business since 2012."

Lefebvre’s CV includes an MBA from Queen’s University and a BA in Business Administration from the University of Ottawa. He sits on the board of ILDC and is a member of the board of governors of the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ). In 2017, he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40.

In his new role, Lefebvre will ensure BMR Group’s continued growth in alignment with the company’s strategic plan. His brother, Marc-André Lefebvre, will now serve as president of Lefebvre & Benoit.

“I am very proud to join BMR Group—a local company that values entrepreneurship and regional development. Having headed the Lefebvre & Benoit family business for close to 10 years, the time has come to take on a new challenge,” said Alexandre Lefebvre.

Shouldn’t your store enter the 2021 Outstanding Retailer Awards?

What’s the best part about being an Outstanding Retailer Award winner? Oh sure, there’s the engraved plaque, the promotion of the award within one’s community, and being celebrated in person at the Hardlines Gala Dinner.

But winning owners and managers tell us over and over that it’s the sense of pride they have for their staff that really highlights their experience. That sense of pride is shared by all winners and by the industry at large, as ORA winners represent the very best qualities of retailing, leadership, and humanity that make this industry so great.

That’s why Hardlines is pleased to announce the call for entries for the 2021 Outstanding Retailer Awards.

The awards, which are national in scope, are open to all Canadian hardware and home improvement retailers and managers who have operated under their current ownership for at least two years.

Dealers may submit their entries directly to Hardlines. Alternatively, their chain or buying group head offices may select their best dealer(s) and prepare their entries for them in collaboration with the dealer. Head offices may enter more than one store per category. In addition, suppliers may identify specific outstanding retailers for entry. ORA submissions are due June 25.

While the state of the world remains uncertain, right now we are planning to award the winning dealers in person during our Gala Dinner at this year’s Hardlines Conference, which will be held Oct. 19 and 20 at the Queen’s Landing Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment in which to host the conference and the awards and will keep you updated as we draw nearer to the date. (Click here to see a full list of categories and entry details, et en français ici.)

Winners will receive a trip for two to Toronto, plus two nights’ accommodation at the Queen’s Landing Hotel in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The winning dealers will attend the Hardlines Conference on Oct. 19 and 20 and participate in the ORA Gala Dinner on Oct. 19, at the end of day one of the conference.

In addition, winners will receive an inscribed plaque, a write‐up in Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly magazine, and a customized video and photo ready to be sent to local media.

(To fill out the ORA application, please visit; or contact our Editor, Christina Manocchio, for further information. Le formulaire est également disponible en français.)

Canadian Tire’s pandemic shift to digital was sudden—and dramatic 

A recent online conference focusing on retail and marketing in the digital world provided some valuable insights into the direction of one of Canada’s leading hardware retailers.

Cynthia Wong is the associate vice president of digital product management at Canadian Tire Corp. She sat on a panel at the Dx3 conference to share her company’s online challenges as it adapted to the demands created by the pandemic. She noted that the company, across all its retail banners, saw online sales rise by 183 percent in 2020. The Canadian Tire Retail business was up an astonishing 250 percent.

It happened fast last April. Literally overnight, sales on the Canadian Tire website increased by almost 25 percent. “All of a sudden, we had so much [online] volume that we had a huge and extended blackout on the site, which will live forever on BlogTO,” she said, referring to the notice that one popular Toronto site took of the technical difficulties.

Behind the scenes, changes had to be made to various functional areas, including digital, supply chain, and merchandising. Budgets had to be reallocated to meet the demand for fixes in different parts of the company.

Through it all, she added, her team worked to track the pulse of the customer, something that was done daily. Going forward, “the focus will be on stability, performance, and keeping an eye on the retail experience.”

Christina Manocchio is named editor at Hardlines Inc.

Hardlines is pleased to announce the appointment of Christina Manocchio as editor. In this role, she is responsible for the full range of Hardlines products, including the weekly Hardlines newsletter, Hardlines Dealer News and our various reports. She is also the main lead on editorial production of our print magazine for dealers and managers, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly. Her byline will appear on the Editor’s Message page of the next issue HHIQ.

Christina has already proved herself a creative and integral part of the Hardlines team. She has also been deeply involved in the development of new editorial products at Hardlines as the company evolves new ways to serve the retail home improvement industry coming through the pandemic.

She brings solid editorial background to her new role. She worked as a copy editor at The Hamilton Spectator and the Toronto Star, on its daily news beat. Her experience in the B2B world includes a stint as associate editor at Food in Canada magazine. Her wide-ranging experience includes co-ordinating communications for community and not-for-profit organizations. She is also a Brownie leader with Girl Guides of Canada since 2019.

Christina graduated with a BA in journalism from Wilfrid Laurier University and is currently working toward a marketing diploma at McMaster University.

We look forward to working with Christina as she connects with dealers and executives across the country in her ongoing coverage of the retail home improvement industry in Canada.


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RONA affiliate dealer Fraser Valley Building Supplies (FVBS) has acquired a new store in Terrace, B.C. Terrace Builders Centre will be FVBS’s sixth location.

Castle Building Centres has added two new members in Ontario. Daro Vinyl Products, in Val-Caron, is owned by Roy Gareau and his son Joel. The store has served residential and commercial customers in Sudbury’s north end for almost 25 years. Tri-County Building Supplies is in Coboconk, in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes district. Owned by Larry Cobbledick and managed by Renee Lee, the building centre has served the local area for almost 40 years.

Home Hardware is participating in Tim Hortons’ 2021 Roll Up To Win contest. Tim Hortons customers will have the chance to win one of 1,000 Home Hardware eGift Cards valued at $100 each. Roll Up To Win runs from March 8 to April 4 via the Tim Hortons mobile app and online at Tim Hortons’ iconic beverage cups will also feature the Home Hardware logo.

TORBSA will host its inaugural Virtual Vendor Expo May 18 to 21, replacing its Annual Vendor Appreciation Event. The expo will showcase the buying group’s preferred suppliers, with the final evening dedicated to an invitation-only virtual Vendor Appreciation Event.

Home Hardware dealer-owners Hugues Nepveu and Isabelle Patry have acquired Centre de Rénovation St-Augustin in Mirabel, Que. They joined the Home Hardware banner seven years ago. The Mirabel store is their fifth in the province. Their other Centres de Rénovation are in Pine-Hill (Brownsburg-Chatham), L’Epiphanie, Fabreville (Laval), and Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.

GMS Inc. reported Q3 sales of $751.2 million, a 1.3 percent decline from $761.4 million in last year’s comparable period, due to the continued impact of the pandemic on markets. Organic net sales declined 1.9 percent. Adjusted earnings rose to $25.9 million from $22.2 million.

Costco Wholesale Corp.’s Q2 net sales rose 14.7 percent to nearly $43.9 billion, from $38.36 in Q2 of 2020. Total revenues reached $44.77 billion, from $39.07 billion a year ago. Sales through the online channel soared by 75.8 percent, while comp sales in Canada grew by 13.4 percent.


David Dingwell died at the age of 77 in Souris, P.E.I. His career in home improvement retail dates back to the 1970s and included working for hardware wholesaler Cochrane Dunlop, and later Sodisco-Howden. More recently, David was named business development manager at TIMBER MART in 2007 and became TIMBER MART’s regional director of member services for Atlantic Canada in 2014. In 2017, the ABSDA conferred on him its first-ever Industry Lifetime Achievement Award. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Dessie (Creamer), their three children, and six grandchildren, as well as his brother Roger and several nieces and nephews. A celebration of life will be held when circumstances permit.


Door and window maker ATIS has announced the closures of its Terrebonne, Que., plant and 19 outlets in the province as it seeks creditor protection. Its management says it has not thrown in the towel but is working to restructure to return to profitability.


“Throughout his career, Dave formed many lasting relationships and was a personal friend to a number of TIMBER MART dealers, vendors, and staff. He had the rare ability to make everyone he met feel special and always had TIMBER MART members’ best interests at heart. He has touched so many people in a positive way and will truly be missed.” —Bernie Owens, TIMBER MART president and CEO, on the passing of Dave Dingwell, who had represented the group in Atlantic Canada since 2007.

“We’re all now technology companies.” —Cynthia Wong, associate vice president, Digital Product Management at Canadian Tire Corp. She was speaking at this year’s Dx3 conference about the digital shift that retailers are making to adapt during the pandemic.

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